Newswise — A global gathering of marine scientists has set a three-day symposium to work out how we can maximise the many life and planet protecting services we as humans benefit from our coastal habitats.  

The loss of biodiversity and effects of climate change are impacting the health of the whole planet. Climate change, pollution, overfishing and shipping are just some of the issues that have led to a worrying decline in the health of the seas that surround us. 

On 22 November scientists will gather at an especially convened meeting in London, brought together by the University of Portsmouth and Zoological Society London to take a new seascape approach to restoring our coastal resources and habitats. 

For the first two days the experts working in restoration and research from different coastal habitats will share knowledge and expertise and to create a holistic picture of the situation, joining the dots between shared challenges and novel research findings. On the third day scientists will bring together the evidence for how habitats are connected and what benefits this brings to solving the biodiversity and climate crisis. Their findings and possible solutions will be published in an open access paper. 

Conference organiser, Dr Joanne Preston from the School of Biological Science at the University of Portsmouth, says:  “The aim is to supercharge coastal restoration across temperate regions. By bringing together these experts we hope to move current conversations away from single species restoration. By taking a systems level approach that considers all the interactions and feedbacks that occur between healthy coastal habitats, we can move towards a seascape approach to nature restoration.

“For total habitat restoration we need to work collaboratively and think about the whole system as one seascape. Only then, can we start to understand more about the connectivity between different habitats and species such as saltmarsh, oysters, seagrass and kelp – all of which are in critical decline, and find ways to restore the entire system rather than single entities.”

The event will bring experts together to unlock the evidence needed to drive a joined-up approach to habitat restoration. This is important because in marine environments everything is connected by the 3-dimensional body of seawater. The connectivity of these habitats is vital for restoring food webs and repairing degraded and fragmented individual habits.

Coastal environments have been badly damaged with nearly all oyster reefs destroyed and over half the seagrass and saltmarsh beds gone. Experts hope that by trying to understand how each environment is connected they can plan to improve resilience. As well as individual habitats recovering there will be a knock-on benefit to the entire seascape - such as increasing fish populations, nitrate removal, biodiversity, carbon drawdown, and a decrease in erosion.

The Symposium is being held in person at the Zoological Society London on 22-24 November 2022. 

More details can be found here.  


Notes to editors:

The University of Portsmouth is a progressive and dynamic university with an outstanding reputation for innovative teaching and globally significant research and innovation.

The University's research and innovation culture is impacting lives today and in the future and addressing local, national and global challenges across science, technology, humanities, business and creative industries.

Other Link: Symposium: Ecological connectivity across temperate coastal habitats – moving towards seascape scale restoration